Several surgeries have been postponed at an Edinburgh hospital after “a very small number” of patients were found to have an infection.
Thirty elective procedures – scheduled in advance and not related to medical emergencies – have been postponed until Friday at the Western General Hospital’s department of clinical neurosciences.
The move, described as a precautionary measure in a statement from NHS Lothian, comes after patients were identified to have an infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
An incident management team was set up and the cases are being monitored closely, with the health board saying they are not linked.
Professor Alex McMahon, nurse director at NHS Lothian, said: “A multidisciplinary incident management team (IMT) was immediately established and the decision was taken at its most recent meeting (Tuesday) to continue the suspension of procedures until more results were returned.
“We are sincerely sorry to patients and their families for the inconvenience and disruption this will cause.
“This is a purely precautionary decision, and it may prove to have been unnecessary when all of the results are returned, but patient safety must be the priority. We have contacted all of the affected patients directly and will provide a new appointment for each of them as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime, all necessary infection control measures are in place and the situation will continue to be reviewed and monitored very closely.”
P. aeruginosa was found in a shower and some taps in one area of a ward, and is common in soil and ground water.
Despite this and the fact it rarely affects those who are healthy, the bacteria can be harmful to a small number of patients who are vulnerable to infection.